Movies, no less than painting, literature, and other expressions of popular culture, both reflect and influence the worldview of the age and society that produces them. Films in particular (especially box-office hits, as Avatar will doubtless be) can have considerable power to further shape a society’s worldview—a set of beliefs and assumptions that are widely held as ‘givens,’ even if subliminally so. To be most effective at this, a film should not depart too far from what is already held, but rather build on the foundations already laid, reinforcing, deepening and extending the ruling paradigm—to further embed the vision of what their makers think the world ought to be like.
It’s unavoidable that the filmmaker’s morality will find its way in there at some point, and Avatar is no exception:
The moral of the story seems to be that if the citizens of modern hi-tech cultures were to repent from our wicked ways, we might not only be able to avoid further destroying our own natural world, we would also enjoy spiritual wholeness, including a oneness with nature. It seems we are supposed to get the anti-technology vibes of this deep green religious message while sitting in heavily air-conditioned theatres enjoying the most high-tech movie computer graphics to date. To add to the irony, the Avatar marketing machine has no qualms about teaming up with McDonalds. This multinational is a favourite target of environmentalist claims that it causes developing nations to grow more beef by razing, er, forests inhabited by, ah, indigenous people.
It might not be blatant, says Wieland, but there is definitely a barely submerged anti-Christian and anti-Western bias in Cameron’s movie:
The vision underlying Avatar … proposes that peace will come increasingly as we accept our place in nature, as an evolved part of the natural order. In that belief system, pagan societies have largely been the victims of the oppressor Christians—whose dysfunctional culture and false beliefs have prevented them from understanding these ultimately superior close-to-mother-nature cultures.